Diet is the key to health, wellness, energy, and longevity. Hopefully, I’m not telling you anything new. But where to go from here is where things get a little tricky. In the 1980s and 1990s, America was all about low-fat and fat-free foods: Snackwells was the new fad and nutrient-rich olive oil was out.
Then came the avocado. It started in the late 1990s with a sandwich called “California Turkey Wrap.” Oooo…I still remember biting into that sandwich for the first time. Avocadoes were associated with a granola-eating, I-don’t-wear-deodorant Californian in Birkenstocks. But guess what? It stuck. Our bodies wanted the avocado (and good fats).
And America has since gone 180 with Atkins’ Diet and no-carb diets. I’m not a nutritionist, but I am skeptical of diets that eradicate whole food groups.
In the end, I think everyone’s body is different. We need to pay careful attention to those foods that make us feel good and provide us with energy and stay away from foods that give us stomach aches or deplete us of precious energy. And sometimes it’s about timing and what time of day is best for which foods. For some, carbs make them tired and fatigued. But that doesn’t mean we should eliminate them completely. I suggest keeping a food journal and making note of the time of day, then experiment.
With so many paths to take and so many different body constitutions, I think we can follow these general guidelines (based on the FDA):
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants which are crucial for keeping inflammation at bay. (Inflammation in the body is connected with chronic conditions, auto-immune disorders, chronic pain, stomach pain, and cancer.) Aim to eat 3-4 cups of fruit a day and 3-4 cups of vegetables a day.
Be sure your macros are balanced. The FDA recommended daily intake for carbs is 50-60%, protein is 25-30%, and fats 20-25%.
Avoid trans fats; limit saturated fats whenever possible.
Avoid preservatives (i.e., foods you can’t pronounce). Have you ever read the ingredients on the back of a bag of oreos or some snack foods? butylated hydroxytoluene. (?)
All of those preservatives are going into your body – whatever ingredients are included in that package of cookies to make it last that long are going into your system. So what does this mean at the grocery store? Shop the outer vicinity. Avoid the inner aisles whenever possible. All of the fresh foods are located on the outer vicinity: fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, milk, orange juice. Of course there are exceptions (rice and spices are located in the inner aisles), but if we do most of our grocery shopping on the outer vicinity, our bodies will thank us.